Persuading Without Words: 5 Conversion Design Essentials

When I mention the word "persuasion," you're likely picture a negotiation, where one person insists as another pushes back until, eventually, one side concedes. And, in all conventional uses of the word you would be correct. For web marketers and most, if not all, business owners, however, persuasion goes beyond words into what is called conversion design. Whether you call it conversion design, user experience, or landing page optimization, it's all persuasion. It's the art of persuasion…without words. Conversion design attempts to manipulate testable elements of the human experience (the elements of a website) combined with psychological tendencies in order to convince website visitors to take a desired action. The following elements outline from a top-level perspective the five most important aspects to a well-executed conversion design.

#1 Identify the intersection between your customer and your business goals

Before you invest time and money into web design and develop, develop a critical understanding of your customers' needs. Understand what type of content your website visitors and customers seek and how they are likely to interact with your brand online. Are they looking for products? To learn about your company? To call in to ask more questions about your services? Next, consider your marketing goals for website's traffic. Is it to generate revenue through product purchases, to generate leads through calls or email signups, or perhaps just to provide relevant content? Make sure to map visitor and customer needs and wants with your marketing and business goals. Think big picture: map the perfect funnel through which you can convert a visitor into a customer. Take this big picture funnel and use it as a foundational element of the conversion design process. The end goal of this step is to align customer and business intentions in a way that is natural and helpful.

#2 Understand call to action best practices

Once you have mapped your visitors' needs to your business goals, define your call to action. A call to action ushers visitor toward the next logical step in the conversion funnel. It could be a form fill and a click on "submit," e-chats with a customer service agent, or a phone call to schedule an appointment. Whatever the call to action may be, there are best practices associated with implementation. For forms, consider using inline information validation (boosts average completion rate by 22%), For buttons (e.g. "Submit," "Purchase") you may want to experiment with colors. Start with high contrast colors (button vs. background) and test different colors. (Facebook says green converts the best for their site. What converts best for yours?) For those with a phone number as the call to action, keep the phone number easy to find by placing it prominently in the header of your website. Learn more about call to action best practices by visiting: http://bit.ly/3Pig4Y.

#3 Stay within the "F"

The "F", or the "F shape format", refers to how people naturally view sites. First, eyes run along the top of the page, then down the left side, and finally back up and over to the center of the page, hence the "F." For conversion design experts, this proven behavior indicates that certain places on your website, or website "real estate", are more valuable for recognition and recall. Place the content and function most relevant to your visitors within the "F" in order to maximize chance of conversion.

#4 Size, Position, & Contrast

Once inside the "F", there are a few factors you can play with to draw the attention of your users: size, position, and color contrast.

Size Inevitably, larger elements on the page will be "stickier" (grab more visiting eyeballs passing through). Use that to your advantage when you need something to pop from the group of elements.

Position Back to the "F" shape. After defining what your visitors need to move through the conversion funnel, make sure you place the most relevant and only the necessary content for conversion on the page, prioritizing higher value items by placing them within the "F" shape area.

Contrast Help your designers by creating a black and white rendition of your website (a blueprint, if you will). Use grayscale items only to show color contrast between the various elements on the page. Given a white background, a pure black button will be interpreted as higher priority in the conversion funnel than a light gray button. The black button will, inevitably, grab visitors attention first.

Use these three tools together to create a wireframe, or a grayscale rendition of your website. By communicating the priority of elements on a page in this way, much confusion will be eliminated from the design and development process since everyone will be using a common language to prioritize and decide how to move forward with the website.

#5 Remove the clutter!

Websites have a 3-5 second window to grab a visitor's attention. Use your site's real estate wisely by presenting visitors with only information they need to convert and nothing more; trim all the fat from your site! If your visitors really enjoyed noise, they would be better off visiting Barnes and Noble buying a copy of Where's Waldo, not visiting your website. Resist the temptation to add content because you, your employees, or other stakeholders think it is important. (Back to tip #1-define what your visitors need and want and connect these to your business goals. Leave all other content and functionality out.) Your goal should be to make their visit as short as possible while also guiding them to convert. Keep it simple!

Matt Reilly, Associate Consultant, eBoost Consulting

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